Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use. Because of the significant power the government wields, and the impact it can have on property owners, it is important to understand what eminent domain refers to and the protections property owners have.
What is eminent domain?
The power of the government to take private property for public use is not unlimited and can only be done in certain circumstances. Private property can only be taken for a public good such as a bridge or highway. At times, there may be a dispute between the government and a property owner as to what is a public purpose. It is usually determined by asking if the proposed taking provides a public benefit.
When property is taken from a private landowner for a public purpose, the government is required to pay the property owner just compensation. There may also be disputes about what just compensation is and it is important for property owners to be able to advocate for their interests in those circumstances. Just compensation is usually determined by what would be fair market value for the property. To that end, property owners will likely want to have their land appraised.
Property rights are important to understand and to be able to protect. There are several different types of property rights. Eminent domain proceedings can have a sweeping impact on property owners who should be aware of their rights and how property law can protect their interests.